Thursday, February 3, 2011

ODU, JMU, UNCW still tied atop CAA

Three teams began the night tied atop the Colonial Athletic Association standings, and one buzzer-beater, one overtime and a closer-than-expected result later, Old Dominion, James Madison and UNC Wilmington still share the conference lead. There was also another overtime game, and in Delaware, Elena Delle Donne reached the 1,000-point mark faster than all but one player in NCAA Division I history. It's going to be one heck of a CAA Tournament.

Meanwhile, in ACC play Virginia rolled over Wake Forest but Virginia Tech remained winless in the conference despite a valiant effort in a shootout at Boston College.

CAA standings
UNC Wilmington     17-4     9-1
James Madison        16-6     9-1
Old Dominion          15-6     9-1
VCU                       12-8     7-3
Drexel                     13-8     5-5
Hofstra                    13-8     5-5
Delaware                 12-9    5-5
George Mason        10-11   4-6
Northeastern            8-13    3-7
Georgia State           7-13    2-8
Towson                   7-14    2-9
William and Mary    2-18    1-9

Thursday's games

UNC Wilmington 68, VCU 64 (OT): Treasure Johnson's 3-pointer with 5 seconds left in regulation forced the extra period, and the Seahawks controlled those extra five minutes to avenge their only CAA loss and notch their program-record 8th straight CAA victory. The Rams led by 11 at halftime by hitting virtually everything they threw up (72.9 percent from the field) in the opening 20 minutes, and they shot 52.9 percent for the game. But as we learned last month when the Rams visited ODU, when pressured - and someone even when they're not - the Rams will cough up the rock. On Thursday they turned it over 28 times, miscues the Seahawks converted into 30 points. Andrea Barbour led VCU with 17 points, but Courtney Hurt had a rare quiet night with 14 points and 7 rebounds. Hurt went for 35 points and 13 boards during VCU's 70-58 win over UNCW in Richmond last month. Martha White scored a career-high 27 points and Brittany Blackwell had 15 points and a remarkable 10 steals for the Seahawks.

Old Dominion 68, George Mason 67: Back in November in our "Gimme five!" preview series, one of our fearless predictions for 2010-11 was that Jasmine Parker would nail a buzzer-beater. Well, Parker delivered big-time Thursday, knocking down a cold-blooded 15-footer as time expired to allow the Lady Monarchs to escape Fairfax with their share of the conference lead intact. No one should be surprised that this one was ultra-close, and the fact that the Patriots played the Lady Monarchs to a four-point game in Norfolk last month erases the notion that this was simply a case of a team getting geeked up to play ODU on its home court. No, this team presents problems for the Lady Monarchs, especially guard Taleia Moton (20 points), who seems to be able to get wherever she wants with stunning frequency against ODU. Amber Easter also scored 20 points for Mason. Russia Voronina led ODU with 17 points and Parker added 13, including the knockout punch we told 'ya would be coming one of these days. The Patriots were no doubt heartbroken by Parker's dagger, but the fact that they came within a second of knocking ODU off in a way helps to validate them as a CAA threat. As for the Lady Monarchs, it's off to JMU and Sunday's Super Bowl Showdown with the Dukes.

James Madison 62, Georgia State 55: A successful but uneven performance from the Dukes, who kept distancing themselves from the Panthers only to be reeled back in. Credit the Panthers for digging in whenever JMU threatened to pull away. But the Dukes also shot a lot of blanks (27.8 percent for the game), several from close range. Dawn Evans scored 19 points but made just 3 of her 16 shots, and Lauren Jimenez had 11 points and 8 rebounds but played just 21 minutes because of foul trouble. Courtney Hamner added 11 points and hit 3 of 5 from 3-point range and Nikki Newman grabbed 10 rebounds, 5 on the offensive boards. Hey, a win is a win. But we're sure the Dukes are glad they got this performance out of their system before Old Dominion shows up on Sunday.

Hofstra 79, William and Mary 65: Unfortunately typical result for the Tribe, who were competitive for a half before ceding ground dramatically over the final 20 minutes. Shante Evans scored 19 to lead four Pride performers in double figures. Emily Correal and Taylor Hilton each had 15 points for the Tribe and Jaclyn McKenna added 14. But it was an especially tough night for William and Mary leader scorer Taysha Pye. Pye came in averaging 18.4 ppg but managed just 9 points while committing 8 turnovers in her 30-minute stint Thursday.

Other CAA scores
Delaware 52, Northeastern 37: Elena Delle Donne finished with 24 points and now has 1,008 in her career in just 38 games.
Drexel 65, Towson 59 (OT)

Virginia 73, Wake Forest 46: The Cavaliers haven't won many ACC games, but when they do prevail, they do it big - their other conference win was a 35-point pasting of Virginia Tech. Freshman Ataira Franklin and Telia McCall each scored 12 points, China Crosby added 11 and three others had at least 8 for the Cavaliers (13-11, 2-6 ACC), who shot 51 percent from the field, 20 percent better than they allowed Wake to shoot. In short, it was the type of all-hands-on-deck effort these Cavaliers have delivered in their most successful outings this season. We're not sure how well it holds up against the better ACC teams. Then again, they did give Maryland fits a couple of weeks ago. So let's hope the Cavaliers can build on this performance.

Boston College 76, Virginia Tech 71: Shanel Harrison scored a career-high 27 points for the Hokies (9-13, 0-8 ACC), who led by 7 early in the second half and popped back in front by a point with less than 3 minutes to go before giving way. Eagles senior Carolyn Swords, the nation's leader in field goal percentage (70.9), exceeded even her own lofty standards by going 11-of-11 from the field for 28 points. She also had 11 rebounds. The Eagles were also nearly perfect from the free throw line, hitting 22 of 24 for the game and going 6-for-6 in the final 51 seconds. Alyssa Fenyn added 16 points for the Hokies, who dropped their 9th straight game.

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